New Delhi: The Academic Financial Trading Platform (AFTP), the first massively open online course (MOOC) platform dedicated exclusively to business education, launched its courses in November 2012 to a growing community of Indian MBA students and executives. Funded by PMC Group, AFTP was founded in 2011 by two Carnegie Mellon University professors, Raj Chakrabarti (Systems Engineering) and Anisha Ghosh (Financial Economics). AFTP faculty include professors at several of the world’s top business schools and economics departments, including Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the London School of Economics (LSE), and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Massively open online courses (MOOCs) have been taking the higher education industry by storm, offering university-level courses from the world’s top schools online for free to anyone, anywhere, through video lectures and weekly assessments that allow students to learn at their own pace. In the wake of the global economic crisis, increasing unemployment rates, and the rising cost of education, AFTP aims to teach a class of skills that are wholly different from those taught on existing MOOC platforms like Coursera, edX or Udacity – namely, skills that facilitate business decision-making. Students who successfully complete the courses, which are comparable in difficulty to those taught by the same professors on campus, obtain formal certification of mastery in mainstream business subjects like Investments, Macroeconomics, and Corporate Finance. But while the conventional b-school curriculum ends there, AFTP training continues, encompassing application of the acquired skills to real-world decisions. For example, students gain access to the latest and most cutting-edge stock market prediction techniques, trading strategies, and valuation methods developed at the world’s top research centers. As part of AFTP coursework, students use the website to backtest the performance of these techniques on decades of historical stock market data, and compare their performance to that of top investment houses in the US. And then, they learn how to apply these techniques – either to manage their own personal finances, or in the context of their jobs.
AFTP was developed by Chakrabarti, based on his expertise in the area of computational risk management, with the help of Ghosh’s experience in the modeling of financial markets. Ghosh, who is the Frank A. and Helen E. Risch Faculty Development Professor of Business at CMU’s Tepper Business School, began offering the first online course – Investment Analysis – to students around the world from November 2012. Professor Christian Julliard of LSE will teach AFTP’s second course – Macroeconomics – starting January, 2013. Indian students are welcome to enroll for a limited number of remaining spots.
Within the first month of their release, AFTP courses are already being taken by MBA students at the top business schools in India, including the IIMs and IITs, to supplement their on-campus learning. AFTP professors are interacting directly with Indian faculty to integrate the online courses with the on-campus curricula at these business schools. PMC Group – the global manufacturing conglomerate with branches spanning the US, Europe and India – is funding the development and distribution of the courses through its sister company PMC Advanced Technology, which is working closely with administrators at Indian business schools to oversee assessment and certification.